The platypus may be my favorite animal in the world.  The animal that wasn’t supposed to exist.  When the first specimens were sent to Europe in the 19th century, scientists suspected a hoax.

The platypus is a link between the world of reptiles and our own mammalian world, with characteristics of both.  It has a bill and webbed feet like a duck, lays eggs like a bird or reptile but also produces milk and has a coat of fur like a mammal.  The platypus lacks nipples; the young nurse through the abdominal skin, so I guess we won’t see any platypus centerfolds.  🙂

A team of scientest, lead by Wesley C. Warren, a geneticist at Washington University, has mapped the genome of the platypus, which contains approximately 18,500 genes.

The platypus shares 82 percent of its genes with the human, mouse, dog, opossum and chicken.  That’s right, the platypus is 82% human and we are 82% platypus.  🙂

Something we need to keep reminding ourselves of is how much we share with the other animals that populate our planet.  Just as we should remember how much we humans are alike no matter how different we may seem to be to the naked eye.

The platypus genome represents a look back in time to when mammals split from reptiles, some 166 million years ago.  The more we learn about the genes that we share with these creatures the more we learn about ourselves and the better we understand the world we live in. 

Personally I love the idea that I am 82% platypus.  🙂

An article on the project on the New York Times site:

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/08/science/08platypus.html

What is your favorite animal, besides dogs, cats and horses named Amos, [Papa – 🙂 ]

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